What is Equitable Distribution?
Equitable Distribution is the way your marital property is divided up. Marital property comes in two categories: assets and liabilities. It’s called “equitable” because each party is supposed to get an equal value of assets and liabilities. This leaves you and your spouse with the same net worth after divorce.
For example, let’s say both your car and your spouse’s car (the ones you drive most often) are in your spouse’s name. Even though your spouse technically owns both cars, one will be given to you. This is for the purpose of equitable distribution. If only one of you owns a car, the spouse who uses the car the most keeps it. The other spouse will keep something of equal value.
The same principle applies with liabilities. Unfortunately, this means that if one spouse racks up a lot of debt, both spouses will share the debt equally. Each will settle their half with the bank. You may, however, get different payment plans and work out the terms with the bank individually.
Example: Your spouse has a credit card in your spouse’s name only. Your spouse maxes the card out $5,000. Even though the card is in your spouse’s name, you could be responsible for $2,500.
Very little is considered non-marital property in Florida. So, few things are exempt from the principle of Equitable Distribution. There are, however, a few possible exceptions:
- items gained before marriage
- gifts specifically made to one party, but not the other
There are also a number of factors which may influence how “equitable” the distribution of your property actually is. These are things like the financial situations of each spouse, how much each spouse contributed to the marriage (for example, chipping in for the other spouse’s education), and how long you’ve been married. Contributions to the marriage need not always be material, though. The time taken to raise children or manage the home may also be considered.
After we receive your homework and your spouse’s financial information page, we will prepare an equitable distribution worksheet. This will help us prepare the financial aspects of your case.